In the same fashion as the New York Yankees a few years ago in baseball, the Miami Heat can now safely be considered the evil empire of the NBA.
They cemented their status on Thursday night when they repeated as NBA champions, seemingly to the delight of Miami residents and only Miami residents. The Heat were able to score back-to-back victories for the first time since the Los Angeles Lakers did it in 2009-10. No one liked them, either.
The 95-88 victory over the San Antonio Spurs did not come without a fight from the opponent and a huge outing from Miami’s hired gun: Lebron James.
James went off with 37 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Heat to their second-straight nail-biting victory in the series. The Heat narrowly survived Game 6 despite being in a 5-point hole with just over 20 seconds left.
James actually got some solid support in Game 7. Dwyane Wade, who has been hit-or-miss throughout the playoffs, came through with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Shane Battier also provided some surprising contributions by catching fire from long range. The veteran went 6-for-8 from behind the long line and accumulated 18 points.
Strong shooting from outside was a common theme for Miami, as James also went 5-for-10 from deep.
The game was still very much up in the air with around 40 seconds remaining. James, with the Heat leading by just two, knocked down a huge jumper. The Spurs, who were hampered by turnovers all night, could not get anything going in the final stages of the game.
James named NBA finals MVP
Thursday night was full of déjà vu as James again was named the Most Valuable Player of the Finals. He became the fifth player in the history of the game to do so consecutively.
He falls in with some pretty impressive company, which includes Shaquille O’Neal, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Hakeem Olajuwon.
James had 37 points, which is the most scored in a Game 7 since 2000, when Shaquille O’Neal poured in 41 points.
What does the future have in store for Tim Duncan?
Arguably the best power forward ever to play the game of basketball is now 37 years old. Most media members postulated that if the Spurs were able to nab yet another NBA title, then Duncan was going to ride into the sunset on top.
Does this change anything?
The reason you have to wonder is because the big man has not slowed down. He is still one of the most dominant forces in the game right now. He averaged 17.8 points and 9.9 rebounds per game this year and was an All-Star.
Still, Duncan has achieved everything there is to achieve in the game, including the four NBA titles he already has under his belt.
Can Duncan play a few more years and be successful doing so? Absolutely. Will he? That’s the million-dollar question. Oh, and don’t forget 35-year-old Manu Ginobili.